Deep Community Roots
When Community Regional Blood Center of St. Petersburg, Hunter Blood Center of Clearwater and the Southwest
Florida Blood Bank of Tampa finally merged in 1994 to create Florida Blood Services, each had already
served the Tampa Bay area for more than four decades. Their organizers – dozens of business,
professional and volunteer leaders – pioneered the concept that blood banks should benefit people
from all walks of life.
Southwest Florida Blood Bank
Tampa Blood Bank, later known as Southwest Florida Blood Bank, Inc., was Florida’s second regional blood
bank to become activated. The charter for this blood bank was granted by the State of Florida on March 10, 1942,
and the bank opened for operation on April 17, 1942.
The records show that subscribers to the charter were David R. Murphy, Jr., M.D.; Herbert R. Mills, M.D.;
Richard Greco, Judge John R. Himes, Sherman B. Forbes, M.D. in addition to the first officers, who
were: Mrs. F.D. Jackson, F.K. Conn, Charles Galloway and Mrs. Harry Root, Jr.
About a year after the Southwest Florida Blood Bank, Inc., began operating, Miss Louise C. Suter was
selected as chief technologist and later administator.
Southwest Florida Blood Bank, Inc., records are lavish in their praises of Mrs. Frank Jackson, who was one
of the principal organizers of this regional blood bank at Tampa. During the early years of the bank’s
operation, she personally conducted a door-to-door canvassing program in some sections of Tampa, soliciting blood donors.
A "Pioneering" Program
But Mrs. Jackson did not, by any means, carry on a "one-man campaign." It should be remembered that back in
this time, 1942, the only blood banks in operation were those associated with large medical centers. It was,
in a sense, a pioneering program. Even in Dade County, where Florida’s first blood bank had been organized only a
year before, the officers, directors and technicians had discovered that new problems were constantly arising.
Hunter Blood Center
R. E. Hunter Memorial Blood Center, Inc., formerly Upper Pinellas County Blood Bank, Inc., at Clearwater, obtained
a charter in 1949. The project received financial assistance from the Business and Professional Women’s Club, and
its founders were: Sudler Hood, M.D.; J. J. Guerra, M.D.; R. E. Hunter, and Raymond Center, M.D. Original officers
were: L. S. Ruder, President; the Reverend T. A. Colreavy, Vice President; the late R. E. Hunter, Secretary, and
Mildred Alten, Treasurer. The first board of directors consisted of Mr. Ruder, the Reverend Colreavy, Mrs. Gerald
Cooper, Mrs. J. W. Hinds, Miss Ina Bell Helms, Mrs. Alten, William E. Gozza, Jr., and Mr. Hunter. Officers and
Directors were: Harold C. Martens, President; Lucius S. Ruder, Vice President, and Mrs. Alten, Secretary-Treasurer.
J. B. Leonard, M.D., was the Medical Director.
Community Regional Blood Center
Community Blood Bank, Inc., in St. Petersburg, opened in 1952. Elon C. Robison was first President and Chairman
of the Board. Alfred L. Schelm served as the first Vice President; Sam H. Mann, Sr., Secretary; Barr Rimer,
Treasurer; E. Russell Sheldon and Philip Dann, M.D., Directors, and Ira C. Evans, M.D., Medical Director.
Technical Director was William A. Durden.
Manatee Community Blood Center
Manatee County Blood Center was organized in October, 1949, by a group of Bradenton physicians and community
leaders and was first housed in an old gas station. It was later relocated to Manatee Memorial Hospital. After a
few years, a small duplex building was acquired that served as its home for many years through many additions and
expansions. In 1997, Manatee Community Blood Center moved into a beautiful, new, modern facility on East Manatee
Avenue. In addition to this location, FBS also maintains a Donor Center in the Lakewood Ranch community in east
Manatee at the Sarasota County line.
Written by Paul J. Schmidt, M.D.